How does scoring work across sports?

Understanding how scoring works is one on the fundamental elements of beginning to understand a sport. I’ve written in the past about how scoring works in football and bowling and I will certainly get to other sports in the near future.

For today, I’ve created a simple chart that you can use as a reference as you watch different sports and wonder what types of scores are or aren’t possible.

Dear Sports Fan Scoring Chart 2


A few things that may jump out at you as you read the chart.

  • Football has by far the most varied and complex set of scoring options. It’s also the only sport where a team cannot score a single point. The one point extra point is only possible in conjunction with a six point touchdown.
  • Hockey and soccer, the two lowest scoring sports, are also the only two where scoring more than a single goal at one time is impossible.
  • While the mechanism for scoring a point in baseball is solitary (a player runs around the bases and touches home plate without being caught out by the defensive team, it is possible to score one, two, three, or four runs at one time.
  • Football and basketball both use the term “field goal” but in football it refers to kicking the ball through the uprights while in basketball it’s simply the official phrase for tossing the ball through the basket. It’s possible for both field goals to be worth three points to the team making them but in basketball a two point field goal is also ordinary.
  • In basketball, a field goal plus a free throw is popularly called an “and one.”

Let me know if this is useful and what other sports you’d like to see added to the chart!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *